I had a chance to see a few clips from the upcoming Disney Animated Film Zootopia, which is going to be super cute by the way. PLUS, it’s going to be crazy funny. We saw a bit of the concept art which looks great and I’ll be able to share that with you guys soon.
What is Zootopia?
The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a
place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But
when rookie Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a
police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Zootopia,” a comedy-adventure directed by Byron Howard (“Tangled,”
“Bolt”) and Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph,” “The Simpsons”) and co-directed by Jared Bush (“Penn Zero: Part-Time
Hero”), opens in theaters on March 4, 2016.
Q: Did you do the jokes first or come up with the plot line or did they evolve together or how did they?
BH: Thank you very much. Well together. The way we kind of make these Movies is that it’s a group of us sitting in a room kind of talking about life experiences, what we think is entertaining, what we think is funny and we’ll just begin kind of riffing all the scenes. A joke will inspire us. Universal.
Q: How exactly did this type of story come about?
RM: So very early on we found out, we really needed to become experts on how Cities evolved and how people interacted, how these Cities get built, and when we went to Africa, one of the things we noticed was around the watering hole during the day, we filmed those Giraffes. There were literally about 30 feet from us. They were very, very close to us and during the day, the Lions and Leopards and the Giraffes, everyone got around the watering hole so we figured out that this City is the place where people come together and live together and they have to agree on certain types of behavior to make living work.
That’s where we really got interested in this idea of Predator and Prey and how these different groups have evolved to get along and it’s been a fascinating journey. We always try to become experts as much as possible so that the Film, the story is fed by the research.
BH: By fact and real life, relatable situations. That was something that was important to John Lassiter from the very beginning. He was, if we were going to do a Talking Animal Movie, it should be Animals for Animals not just people in Animal Costumes kind of acting like Humans. It should really come from how Animals relate to one another, and especially Predator and Prey.
RM: Yeah, it’s a great idea about how people in Movies past, you know learning about Bias and finding out that it exists in our own World but how these Animals actually get to deal with it, and it almost becomes like a fable in a way and a lot of us have to talk about things that are kind of difficult for, uh, live action Films to approach but something that we can really get in a great way.
BH: One of the great things that John does is he says to Film Makers, he says pitch your idea, pitch your story, and then once you buy us into the overall kind of Picture concept, he wants you to go off and spend a year doing Research and he really encourages you to let that Research then come back to inform the rest of the story to go forward and it’s a real gift to be able to go out and do that because it does give you these nuggets that make it based in reality.
Even went to New York City and we spent time time with an expert on the evolution of New York as a City and Chinatown and Little Italy and how did these places grow and where did the Irish come in, in the beginning and how did that City really kind of expand. We started to talk about Sahara Square and Tundra Town and these other areas so it’s those things that give you things that give, um, real richness to the world itself and if we didn’t take that time to do that, we’d never get to that place and I think that’s one of the great things that John encourages so deeply at the Studio.
Q: How is Music in this Movie? What should we expect?
RM: Shakira’s song is a big, huge part of the Film. There’s also the score is very, very unique. Michael G. Kino, who scored “Star Trek” and “Jurassic World.” About a year ago, we went and talked to him about doing this Movie and he was the best choice for us because Michael needed to do something very, very diverse because every time you go to a new District, it needs to have a certain flavor and you know, there’s an exotic feeling to Sahara Square and a different feeling to Tundra Town.
What’s amazing about Michael is you guys know his Music and we’re all big fans. We kind of talked about what our hopes and dreams for the Movie. He checks out the most emotional scenes to try and kind of find his way into the Movie and a few weeks later, you’re listening to like a Suite that he’s composed for the Film, and in Music, he’s taken everything we’ve talked about and turned it into a whole other language of Music, you know, that is just a whole other layer of emotion, that’s on top of what we’ve done. He adds so much to the Music that he’s just been an awesome Collaborator to work with and like Byron saidd he mixes kind of cultures and genres. There’s like he has the tough task of, OK, we’re making a Movie about Animals but there’s also a procedural Cop kind of feeling to it, and it has to have deep, deep heart and emotion and God love him, you know, he’s able to take all those pieces and bundle it into one beautiful score and I can’t wait for you guys to hear it. I love it.
Q: What was the most challenging part of the Film?
BH: Well you know honestly, for all these Movies, I think it’s Story. Story is always the toughest thing for us because we all care so much. These Movies are very, very time consuming and our crew, we have about 6 or 700 people who work on each of these Movies and they are honestly so skilled and they give all their time. They’re not gonna see their families as much. They’re gonna spend all their time at work with us and we really want to create stories that are worthy of them so we really beat ourselves up trying to get the best story possible. That’s what the story trust is about. Story trust is where you take people who you trust in the room with a story to show your Film. .
We actually screened this Film I think probably 16 or 17 times internally for each other so over a period of almost 2 years and that goes from the very, very beginning where it’s just a treatment on the page and we’ll write a script and a storyboard and we’ve done, I kid you not, about 190,000 storyboard drawings, most of which we threw away did not wind up in the Film, and that’s kind of typical of what we do. Our Story Artists have to be comfortable with the fact that most of what they do is going to go in the trash and it’s all in service of finding the best version of the story cause we had for many, many versions.
Every version that we screened was slightly different, some were dramatically different, and sometimes we would make a huge shift and turn the Movie upside down. It’s painful because it’s all beautiful work. We have sequences that we lost and Characters that we lost that were great but didn’t really fit for the story that we’re trying to tell, especially with such a difficult subject, we had to be very careful about what we were saying and how we were saying it to appeal to the broadest Audience possible, not just Americans but Internationally and not just Black or White. We wanted to make sure that this is a very, very clear statement of the Film and it’s also a very affirmative statement I think. I’m very, very proud of our crew because they weathered it with us.
They trusted us and they stuck with it. That’s obviously I think very, very beautiful and to Disney’s credit, the fact that they supported us in doing something about Bias and it’s such a great uplifting thing for us to have that kind of support and not just being expected to Aw, let’s create something funny or something cute or something that will sell, that’s really big. I really believe the Company wants to help the world become a better place.
I can’t wait to take my family to see Zootopia, you can catch it in theaters on March 4th!